Free speech?  We don’t need no stinkin’ free speech!
by Edgar J. Steele

 August 4, 1999

            My name is Edgar J. Steele.  I am a lawyer.  I recently took on representation of some hugely unpopular people here in North Idaho: Pastor Richard Butler and his Church of Jesus Christ Christian/Aryan Nations.  They are being sued by famous far-left-wing attorney, Morris Dees.  Dees has sworn to bankrupt them as he did a Ku Klux Klan chapter a few years ago.  In this case, the defendants (at least, the ones I am representing) have been falsely accused.  Dees told me last week that this was no free speech case, as I have repeatedly observed.  My response?  “Well then, Mr. Dees, why are you here, all the way from the deep South, to push a case that really involves nothing more than a two-bit assault, and that by people other than the ones you publicly claim you are out to bankrupt?”  After he got through literally choking on that, he darkly hinted at some past wrong inflicted upon himself by members of Pastor Butler’s flock.  I followed up with, “So this is a case of simple personal vengeance…is that what you are saying?”  At that point, Dees refused to say anything else on the subject, apparently realizing the ludicrousness of his position.

            Incidentally, Dees seems to use cases like this to stir up members of his newsletter mailing list, who then send in massive donations to help him and the Southern Poverty Law Center “defeat hatred and bigotry.”  The donations number in the multi-millions per case, while the expenditures are but a small fraction of the amounts collected.  The SPLC reputedly now sits on cash reserves in excess of $100 million.  As you might expect, Morris Dees travels in style.

            The threats and vilification that I predicted for myself at the outset, for taking on Richard Butler and the Church of Jesus Christ Christian/Aryan Nations as clients, have now come to fruition.  It is remarkable what I, and now my little children, are being forced to endure because I dare to stand up for others, with whom I do not even agree, who wish to exercise their right to free speech in politically incorrect ways.

            While I was reconsidering taking on this case, Pastor Richard Butler and his followers had their much-ballyhooed march in Coeur d’Alene.  I attended, so as to see first hand what it was that they were doing that was so terrible.

            The only hatred I saw being spewed was by the out-of-town activists, and that by the bucketful. The most memorable placard carried by one of these foreigners boldly stated, "No Free Speech for Nazis." My, my. What an enlightened outlook. I kind of liked "Stamp out Hate," too, for its similar contradiction in terms. "Honk if you Hate Nazis" was another colorful sentiment from these so-called peaceful protestors. Since these interlopers blocked the Aryan Nations' exhibition, with the obvious blessings of the police, the message from North Idaho for all the world to see now is: "No Free Speech (unless you possess politically-correct views)." What a proud day for us all.

            In stark contrast, Pastor Butler marched with dignity and obvious pride.  His followers, including women and children, were similarly dignified in their bearing and fully complied with the law in every respect.  They carried flags, they walked down the street and they detoured when told to do so by the police.  No babies were killed.  No crosses were burned.  No punches were thrown.  No threats or profanity hurled at the bystanders.  A remarkable contrast to what was being hurled at them and done to them, actually.  It was this contrast which, in large measure, finally convinced me to take on this case.

            I even wrote an article on the event, which is totally truthful and pretty different from that published by the local media.  You can still find it posted at:

            Then I decided to take on the Aryan Nations’ case and all hell broke loose.  First, the only thing that passes for a real newspaper in this part of the backwoods, the Spokane, Washington “Spokesman Review,” started off the festivities by linking me with a couple of local fellows who have been pilloried for their religious belief that European white people are the “chosen people” described in the Bible.  They have been called (to use only the nicer terms) racists, anti-semites, hate mongers and bigots.  Therefore, insinuated the article, must I also be, if they are my comrades in arm.  The Spokesman Review made the false observation that I came to this area the same time as they did, thereby implying that my relationship with them has been longstanding.  

          This is what is called investigative journalism here in the sticks (let’s face it - if these clowns had anything journalistic on the ball, would they be toiling in the boondocks?).  In fact, I do happen to know those two gentlemen, who are quite pleasant and very well educated.  I met them about seven months ago when they consulted me about suing some newspapers for libel, including the Spokesman Review.  (You see, virtually every other lawyer around here is terrified of taking on the establishment, for reasons that I am only now discovering.)  I refused to take their case on a contingent fee basis (no win, no pay).  

            The Spokesman Review also falsely insinuated that I was being paid by these fellows, who many believe to be quite wealthy, for representing the Aryan Nations.  (Mind you, around here, anybody with a new car is deemed wealthy!)

            Then I got a message on my machine from a fellow with a heavy New York Jewish (yes, I have spent enough time there to tell the difference) accent.  Listen for yourself to the most extraordinary portion of his diatribe:

            I turned my investigator loose on the caller, a Mark Wiles of Nevada.  I have now accumulated something of a dossier on Mr. Wiles, who moves around quite a bit. Wiles, something of an itinerant laborer, was up here not long ago as part of a protest against my clients.  I’m still looking for a connection between him and Morris Dees and/or the Southern “Poverty” Law Center, who are pressing the case against Pastor Butler and company.  When I met Mr. Dees the other day, he had a retinue of plainclothes security people that numbered in excess of fifteen.  I wonder why he feels such a need for protection?  Who is behind the threat made against my family and myself by Mr. Wiles?

            Then the local “newspaper,” the Bonner County Daily Bee, weighed in with its take on me and my taking on this case. Now, first you need to understand that Pastor Butler and company have a pretty inflammatory internet web site:

They have posted a request for donations to their legal defense fund on that site.  Donations are sent to my post office box, the one I use for legal-related matters, and are then deposited into a trust fund.  Here’s the Bee’s headline on this innocuous arrangement:  “Butler lawyer asking for donations over Internet.”  Then, the Bee follows up in the article by saying, “The lawyer defending Aryan Nations founder Richard Butler in a lawsuit filed by the Southern Poverty Law Center is asking for a little help from his friends over the Internet.” The article goes on to describe those “friends” as “White Kindred” and “all white people,” using quotes from Butler’s web site, leaving the clear impression that I am a white supremacist racist Nazi bigot.  That places me in the singularly difficult position of having to condemn my clients in order to differentiate myself from them.

             Now today, August 4, 1999, a woman made several calls to my home in my absence, leaving messages on the individual voicemail records for each of my family members.  My 12-year old son was here alone and received his message in person; he was cautioned to watch his back and not to “step outside the door.”  He is now terrified of being shot for merely playing in his own front yard.

My youngest daughter, now 10 years old, got a similar message – you can hear it for yourself at:

 Simply because she is my daughter.   

            Here’s the one my wife got:

             Finally, here’s the one left for me:

             Although I don’t think I deserve such threats for merely representing alleged racists in pursuit of their constitutionally-guaranteed right to free speech, I am simply dumfounded that they threaten my wife and my children in such a hateful fashion.  Little Kelsey was shaking like a leaf after she retrieved her message and is even more terrified now than my son.  It is late now – they have all gone to bed and I am literally weeping for them as I write these words.

             Increasingly, now that I am in the belly of the beast, I learn from where the real hate in this country originates (hint – it isn’t where our controlled media says).  I am also getting a graduate-level seminar in the way that our media today really does its work at the bidding of its true masters (hint – they aren’t the viewers or readers, and are only partially the sponsors).

             To be perfectly honest, and I know how paranoid this sounds, I now half expect something pretty tragic to happen to me and mine.  If it does, and I am no longer capable of speaking out, then I hope that someone will pick up the pieces and ensure that my personal tragedy counts for something.  Or is free speech really done for in America?

             But, this is the way the New Left in this country now seems to do its business.  Terror and hate are their allies…lies and innuendo their stock in trade.  Notice that the messages left accused my family and myself of being “kikes” (Jews) and “nigger lovers.”  This is a new tactic of some ultraliberals today, designed to strike terror while deflecting suspicion – all the while generating sympathy for their patron saints, the Zionists.  The true agenda was given away, however, when the woman referred to my “friend, Randy Weaver,” and how I will meet his fate; presumably that meant watching my wife and son being murdered by the FBI.  (I met him once, briefly…seemed a decent enough sort to me.)  You also heard her mention that the FBI “would love to see (my family) dead.”  If my wife, children and I really were Jewish, the FBI probably would be all over the phone company tapes in a heartbeat, screaming “anti-Semitism” to all who would listen, and ultimately drag this woman from the rock under which she lives.  But, I doubt the FBI will get too worked up in our case, since we are merely Americans of Irish/Scottish extraction on my side and German extraction on my wife’s – even so, I will file a complaint with them.  Hope springs eternal that we conservatives on the political right in this country will get a fair shake from our own government.  (Hint – don’t count on it.)  Keep the faith.


Copyright ©1999, Edgar J. Steele

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